Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some Unusual Cars from the Late 1940s -- Town Shopper, Davis, and Aerocar,

Hi Folks -- I was reading Tom Bonsall's fine book, Disaster in Dearborn last evening, a book about the Edsel. Bonsall has a paragraph about other cars that failed in the marketplace after 1940, the most publicized of which was the Tucker. I followed up on his list with some images of a few of these cars, including a three wheeler, a flying car, and a small shopper -- sort of like a jazzed-up golf cart (see previous entry). Anyone know more about these cars? I had a student write on the history of the Aerocar a year ago or so, but the other two?



The Aerocar (often called the Taylor Aerocar) was designed and built by Moulton Taylor in in 1949. It is the most successful and probably the most famous "flying car" design to date. Although six examples were built, the Aerocar never entered production.

Taylor's design of a roadable aircraft dates back to 1946. During a trip to Delaware, he met inventor Robert E. Fulton, Jr., who had designed an earlier roadable airplane, the Airphibian. Taylor recognized that the detachable wings of Fulton’s design would be better replaced by folding wings. His prototype Aerocar utilized folding wings that allowed the road vehicle to be convertible into flight mode in five minutes by one person. When the rear licence plate was flipped up, the operator could connect the propeller shaft and attach a pusher propeller. The same engine drives the front wheels through a three-speed manual transmission. When operated as an aircraft, the road transmission is simply left in neutral (though backing up during taxiing is possible by using reverse gear.) On the road, the wings and tail unit were designed to be towed behind the vehicle. Aerocars can drive up to 60 miles per hour and have a top airspeed of 110 miles per hour.

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